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New Surrender
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 5 November 2008
Anberlin are one of the most surprising bands in music today. In theory, they seem fairly generic; they combine a heavier rock sound with the catchy hooks of pop-punk. But in practice, there's an x-factor in their music that elevates them above all of the other bands in mainstream rock. This x-factor isn't too easily identifiable; for my money the best answer would be the fact that they utilize devices that are seemingly inherently kitschy, but they somehow manage to present them in a way that is anything but cheesy or contrived. Sing-a-long style "la la's," hand claps, group vocals, and a children's choir have all been employed by Anberlin over the past few years, and they haven't made a misstep yet. Led by the ridiculously strong vocals of Stephen Christian, Anberlin will release New Surrender a week or so from now, and they deserve every bit of the praise that this album will hopefully garner.

If there was one problem with Cities, it was that there were one or two songs that didn't live up to the rest of the album. It was an understandable flaw - clearly Anberlin were still trying to gain their footing as a band that had recently gone from a fairly standard pop-punk sound to a more fleshed out sound that actually set them apart from other bands. On a few songs, it was apparent that they were still trying to capture some of the youthfulness of Never Take Friendship Personal while disregarding the fact that they had matured beyond that level. With New Surrender, they've rectified that problem with their strongest songwriting yet, and on a few tracks they even manage to bridge the gap between old Anberlin and new Anberlin effectively, something they couldn't quite manage to do on Cities. In short, New Surrender is the best Anberlin album yet - an album that shows an energetic, passionate band firing on all cylinders.

The most apparent comparison that can be made to the progression Anberlin have made is through the re-recording of Never Take Friendship Personal's "Feel Good Drag." Most saw the decision to re-record the song as a questionable move, but it turns out to be just the opposite. The song is now heavier (even without the screamed bridge; a great sign of their progression in songwriting) and more streamlined, doing away with some of the pointless nuances that made the track feel bogged down on Never Take Friendship Personal. It also couldn't have better placement in the tracklist; it fits perfectly with the new songs on the album. In short, that's New Surrender. It's Anberlin taking their previous sound and refining it, taking away unnecessary aspects and adding in the flair for straightforward yet impressively cohesive songwriting that they began to display on Cities.

Anberlin continue their trend of hard-hitting openers and epic closing tracks with this album. "The Resistance" somehow sounds even better than "Godspeed," one of the strongest tracks on Cities. The most predominant member of Anberlin has always been vocalist and lyricist Stephen Christian, who is easily one of the most talented vocalists in rock music. He commands a formidable range of lows and falsettos, and he sounds amazing on every song here, but on "The Resistance" in particular because he displays something that was rarely heard on earlier albums - aggression. He's always been an energetic singer, but here he sounds angry, as if he could spearhead a revolution, and that's something that's rarely, if ever, heard in rock music today. If it weren't for "(*Fin)", "The Resistance" would be his strongest vocal performance yet. "Misearbile Visu (Ex Malo Bonum)" is a bit different from typical Anberlin closing tracks. First, it's a bit shorter than both "(*Fin)" and "Dance, Dance Christa Paffgen," and it shows a remarkable amount of restraint by everyone in the band. Beginning with minimal drums and atmospheric guitar playing that back Christian's impressively morbid lyrics ("Your days are numbered when there's blood on the moon"), the track progresses from a subdued quiet into an absolutely huge arena rock chorus, and the song's conclusion will leave you breathless. While it may not be as amazing as "(*Fin)," it's a fitting conclusion to the record, and nothing the band does will likely ever match "(*Fin)" anyway.

Those two songs aren't the only standouts though. Additionally, "Younglife" is everything that a few tracks on Cities wished they could be, displaying both the innocent nature of Anberlin's first records and the matured songwriting of Cities. Guitarists Joseph Milligan and Christian McAlhaney shine here with gorgeous acoustic playing and sliding electric riffs in the chorus that weave around Stephen's vocals, and the transition into the sing-a-long section at the end of the track was an ingenious touch. The conclusion of "Retrace" brings a string section into the picture, elevating an already great track into one of the album's most triumphant moments. "Breathe" is a poignant acoustic track to match Cities' "Inevitable," and "Soft Skeletons" manages to be epic despite its four minute length.

New Surrender is basically everything that Anberlin fans could have hoped for. It's a natural progression from Cities, with a notable advance in songwriting and instrumental techniques. Stephen Christian's vocals are stronger than ever, and if there was ever any question as to whether he was a formidable frontman or not, he puts those doubts to rest here. New Surrender contains twelve of the strongest Anberlin songs yet; there isn't a weak track to be heard. The best part is that it's apparent that they aren't even close to burning out yet, and if they keep this up, their next album could be a masterpiece of modern rock music.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This album has to be one of the most long awaited albums for me all year, and to give it to you simply, this album is absolutely fantastic! I was slightly concerned when they announced that they were leaving 'Tooth and Nail Records' and going 'Universal' but nonetheless, Anberlin have been in this business to know what good music sounds like and with their stunningly produced debut 'New Surrender' they totally shatters any preconceptions from their past and new label! They're back! They're new and improved and have probably produced one of the most catchiest and rockiest album this year! Possibly in they're entire career? In my opinon I think it might just snatch the crown from NTFP!

Compared to previous albums, this is their strongest and probably their most confident album yet and is an (almost) flawless record by my standards with some personal issue's about the re-release of 'The Feel Good Drag'. I'll give them credit where it is due, the music is faultless and definately shows they have improved and developed a maturer sound, however the scream on the bridge should have stayed simply because in the original from NTFP, it provided the raw emotion which fuelled the song. In the re-release you dont see this raw emotion and to be fair makes the song somewhat boring, especially Christian's singing which is practically impossible. Of course this is my opinion and some may prefer the new sound but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. you dont like mine thats fair enough =]

Right getting back on track, the opener 'The Resistance' shows they still got some fight left, crushing guitars, impressive drumwork again by Nate, simply a perfect beginning the album! 'Breaking' is also another amazing song, even better than the acoustic version and definately delivers and you can tell Christian's voice has improved from previous records, especially on the wonderful track 'Burn Out Brighter (Northern Lights)' which is one of the most poppiest records on here, yet it bedazzles you with it technical guitars as well as Christian's voice soaring, hitting you hard in the face with lyrics "Live, I wanna live inspired, Die, I wanna die for something higher than myself, live or die for anyone else"

Softer tracks such as 'Breathe', 'Retrace' and 'Younglife' truly showcase how versatile Christian's voice truly is and these remain to be the main highlights of the album as well as an incredible 'Soft Skeletons' which shows the contrast between a rock bombast chorus and the delicate undertones which is just incredible to listen to as Christian's voice soar yet again! I think my favourites on the album have to be 'Blame Me! Blame Me!', 'Disappear' and 'Haight St' Simply because these songs are the most upbeat tracks on the entire album and have hooked me like a ADHD child in a sweetie shop! They are just the most rockiest songs on the album and 'Haight St' reminds me of 'The Darkness - I Believe In A Thing Called Love' Haha! Not sure why but its a fantastic song non the less! =D

And the closer is needless to say epic! I really dont have any words to describe 'Miseabile Visu (Ex Malo Bonum)', it is just so beautiful. Beautiful piano parts with a very atmospheric tone which leads into a rock chorus with one of the most bone-chilling guitar solos ever. This and Christian's voice yet excels far beyond 'Dance, Dance Christa Paffgen' and 'Fin' to deliver a truly breathtaking end to a brilliant album.

This album is the best ive heard this year by far! End of! So sit back and enjoy =]

Top Tracks: 'Haight St', 'Soft Skeletons', 'Miseabile Visu (Ex Malo Bonum) [Translates roughly as 'Terrible Sight (Good Out Of The Bad)']
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 October 2008
Anberlin after a while away since cities Cities was released - which is another brilliant album from them - check it out if you don't believe me! When the Universal deal was announced I was so excited as a fan of Anberlin since Blueprints for the Blackmarket - In my view Anberlin's music has improved & matured with each release & new surrender is no different.
It starts with the rocking the resisitance - which is a brilliant opener to the album & hooks you along for the rest of the ride (only 13 songs - but hey who's complaining which each is as good as the next!)
Musical hightlight favourites for me are the catchy blame me, blame me!; the improved feel good drag (re-recorded from Never Take Friendship Personal [Us Import] album - great track & updated version sounds just as good as original - I must think why universal wanted anberlin to re-record an old song - but I'm not complaining!); Disappear, breathe & burn out bright are great - trust me when i tell u you will be singing along to the na-na-na on the chorus of younglife! soft skeletons is potentially a brilliant song & the album closer sends shivers up my spine when i hear it - miserabile visu - is all about the end of the world - cheery subject matter I know! but the guys from Anberlin pull off a masterstroke with this song - could bea classic for me!
Now you have finished reading my review what are you waiting for? explore this album, buy it, love it - i know i did! Going to see them in concert in November & can't wait! Hopefully this album will introduce Anberlin's music to an UK & European market & they finally get the recognition for all the hard work they have put into a brilliant, catchy & thought provoking masterpiece
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 March 2009
I love anberlin and I love this album, a bit of a happier album than cities whith a few slightly different tracks like blame me blame me and young life. I cant really say which song is my favourite cos all of them are a great song on their own. A permanent place in my top 10 albums. Buy it NOW!!!
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on 23 December 2008
I'm usually into quite heavy, technically proficient stuff like All That Remains, InFlames, Mudvayne, Shadows Fall etc. but heard a track off this album from a magazine cover cd and decided to look out for it - ended up ordering it from Amazon as I couldn't find it anywhere in the shops.

And what a shame; it's a pretty decent album indeed. "The Resistance" is one of the best pieces of songwriting and melodic heavier rock i've heard in ages - if you like Jimmy Eat World you'll probably love them. Possibly a few too many slower/quieter songs (with some borderline cheesy hooks) for my liking but nonetheless they make the album greater than the sum of its parts. I'm definitely going to backtrack and get their earlier albums, it's just a shame they're not stocked in HMV, Virgin, etc.
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on 19 October 2009
New Surrender is a really powerful record and once again the members of Anberlin show a great development in their music-making. The sound is shifting from heavy bass, screaming guitars and eager screams in songs like "Feel Good Drag" and "The Resistance" to sweet and gentle harmonies in songs like "Retrace" and "Breathe". There is not one song that is less amazing than the others.

The music of Anberlin is not just different instruments put together. The engagement and the deep lyrics take the music to a higher level of consciousness. We are not just supposed to enjoy the songs, but to think about their meanings as well. Stephen Christian and the other band members challenge us to wake up and make a change.
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on 20 September 2009
Only stumbled across Anberlin by pure chance but so glad I did. This is a quite excellent album - lots of excellent tracks and only a couple below par. Will definitely be buying the back catalogue and will go see them when they tour UK again. Highly recommended for fans of American current rock bands, e.g. Paramore, Boys Like Girls, We the Kings, Hey Monday, Plain White Ts, All Time Low
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on 30 March 2012
Very rarely do i find an album where i love every song on it. This is one of those albums. It covers many types of music i enjoy from the heavier guitar sounds in "feel good drag" to the softer, more poetic songs like "Breathe". I'd suggest listening to a couple of songs (if you haven't already) and assuming you like those, you're sure to like the rest. Very glad i found this band.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 September 2011
Those of you that remember the British outfit 'A' will probably enjoy these guys as they sound virtually the same- thats not taking anything away from Anberlin cos they sound great and the song 'feel good drag' is one of the finest I've ever heard!
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